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Sleep and Bedtime Routines

Everybody feels better and is more able to cope with new experiences after a good nights sleep.

Your child may have always slept well and had a set bedtime routine. This will help their concentration and help them cope better with new experiences such as starting nursery or primary school.

If your little one is not used to a regular bedtime routine now is a good time to work on this.

By the time children are about 4 years old, they should be managing the day without naps and getting around 11 - 12 hours sleep each night.

  • The best way to get a good bedtime routine going is to help your child have a pattern in their day. Have a regular getting up time – even if it has been a bad night - get up and start your day as planned. This gives you a better chance of the routine you want becoming a habit.

    On the build up to bedtime start winding things down by;

    • Having a warm bath.
    • Going ‘screen free’. The ‘blue light’ gets in the way of sleep hormone release. Help your child choose quiet play like colouring or board games with you.
    • A warm drink and a snack (try a bowl of non-sugary cereal).
    • Head upstairs to clean teeth and have story time. Kiss good night and have a regular ‘thing’ you say like ‘sleep tight’.


  • Once you have said goodnight if your child wants you go to them during the evening, or in the night keep your response calm. Be kind, reassuring, quiet and a bit boring! This helps your child feel confident you are there for them, but gives a strong message that bedtime means sleeping time.

    To begin with you may have to go to your child many times. Go along with this but keep it short and to the point. Repeat your ‘good night, sleep tight’ message. Over time they will get better at settling themselves without your reassurance.

  • Keep bedrooms a place for chilling out, with low light and calm chat. Try not to use going to the bedroom as a punishment. TVs and screens in bedrooms stimulate children and do not help them learn to get off to sleep themselves.

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.

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